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Nassau Democrats’s call for referendum is ironic

It certainly seems ironic for Nassau Democratic legislators to call for county Republicans to listen to the “will of the people” by scheduling a referendum on a proposal to create an independent inspector general, since Democrats didn’t listen in 2007 to many more people who supported an assessment proposal.

On Friday, after Democrats submitted 4,357 signatures in favor of an inspector general to review county contracts, Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said if Republican Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) ignores the petitions, “she will blatantly be ignoring the will of the people she serves.”

On Monday, Democrats followed up with a news release headlined, “The People Have Spoken!” noting the more than 4,300 signatures filed in favor of a referendum.

Democrats didn’t follow “the will of the people” when Republicans submitted 45,732 signatures on petitions in 2007 asking for a five-year freeze on assessments — more than 10 times the number of signatures submitted by Democrats on Friday.

In 2007, Democrats controlled the county legislature and Republicans were in the minority.

According to a September 2007 news release, then-Minority Leader Peter Schmitt (R-Massapequa) explained that residents were angry about rising property taxes and wanted action.

“I am standing here in front of a foot-high stack of signatures of people who just can’t take it anymore,” Schmitt, who died in 2012, said in the release. “If the Democratic legislators do not want to listen to me, they MUST listen to the people of this county.”

Democrats threw out the petitions — and the assessment freeze — contending the proposal was illegal. Then-Presiding Officer Judith Jacobs (D-Woodbury) called it “a politically motivated public-relations scam.”

Gonsalves last week called the current Democratic petitions “a political stunt.”

Referring to Nassau’s Democratic Party chairman, Gonsalves spokesman Frank Moroney said Monday, “Unfortunately, what we have here is more about the will of Jay Jacobs than the will of the people.” Moroney noted the former unsuccessful Democratic candidate against Gonsalves had filed the signatures.

Jacobs responded, “I think that Mr. Moroney and all the others should look at the merits of an issue rather than trying to tear it down on the basis of who he believes supports it or not. The truth of the matter is something either has merit or it doesn’t. In this case, it does.”

Republicans say the county investigations commissioner, Donna Myrill, already has the powers of an inspector general.

“The job already exists and the position is taken,” Moroney said.

Democrats say she cannot be independent because she works at the will of the county executive. They want the inspector general to have a six-year contract.

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